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CD Review

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Decca 473241

Complete Symphonies

  • Symphony #1 "Sea" for Chorus & Orchestra (1910)
  • Symphony #2 "London" (1914)
  • Symphony #3 "Pastoral" (1922)
  • Symphony #4 in F minor (1934)
  • Symphony #5 in D Major (1943)
  • Symphony #6 in E minor (1947)
  • Symphony #7 "Sinfonia antarctica" for Chorus & Orchestra (1952)
  • Symphony #8 in D minor (1956)
  • Symphony #9 in E minor (1958)
Isobel Baillie, Margaret Ritchie – sopranos
John Cameron, baritone
John Gielgud, speaker
London Philharmonic Choir
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Adrian Boult
Decca 473241-2 5CDs 367m ADD Mono
Find it at AmazonFind it at Amazon UKFind it at Amazon GermanyFind it at Amazon CanadaFind it at Amazon FranceFind it at Amazon Japan

There has long been a need for this classic set to be reissued as an entity and Decca has really made a scoop with the inclusion of the Everest recording of the 9th symphony.

The recordings are outstanding ones although there is some amount of background hiss in the 'Sea Symphony' and the low music of the 'Pastoral'; otherwise the great orchestral sounds of the 4th and 6th are truly memorable with Boult conducting in an inspired manner.

My personal favourites in this cycle remain the glorious Fifth which retains a special tinted glow of ethereality and the majestic 'Sinfonia antarctica' that really gains from Sir John Gielgud's majestic narration.

The Everest recording of the Ninth is also masterly and definitely remains the best version around for this work. The fascinating sense of discovery and occasion is not matched on subsequent recordings.

The set has been remastered to the highest 96kHz/24-bit standards and is truly a treasure to be recommended to all RVW enthusiasts.

Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech

Trumpet